Genealogy research has changed dramatically during the last few decades and many Clark County residents are getting more and more involved in a search of their ancestry.
“My awareness of genealogy began in my 30s with some handwritten charts from my grandmother,’’ said Ridgefield resident Kay Cooke. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my dad died, that I became really interested.”
After the loss of a parent, it is common for many to feel that their link to the past may disappear. Today, there is a flourishing interest in genealogy, and countless resources to help people discover their heritage.
The internet is a key genealogy tool. Many websites have documents such as birth records, marriage licenses, census records, and obituaries. Some websites are free such aswww.usgenweb.org,www.genealogybank.org,www.familysearch.org, andwww.findagrave.com. There are over 5,700 noncommercial genealogy Facebook pages. Other sites are fee based, such aswww.ancestry.com,www.myheritage.com, andwww.americanancestors.org.
Sometimes the hardest thing to know is where to start.
“The best place to begin is with yourself and your immediate family,” said Brian Runyan, president of the Clark County Genealogical Society (CCGS). “Write down birth/death dates and locations for each person and follow that with grandparents using a pedigree chart.”
These forms can be found online or at CCGS. Database software is often used instead of paper. Common brands are Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Builder, and RootsMagic. Runyan notes that CCGS has a user support group for Legacy Family Tree software as well as “how-to” classes, seminars, webinars, and other focus groups.
Genealogical societies and groups are found the world over.
“Not everything is on the internet,” says Library Director Lethene Parks. “Our library collection includes over 8,000 items. The emphasis is on local materials, but we have items from every state and around the world.”
The library subscribes to several genealogical periodicals and has wi-fi access. There are computers for researching two of the top subscription sites ofwww.Ancestry.com World edition andwww.AmericanAncestors.org, the website for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
“Possibly our richest resource comes in the form of the librarians on duty,” said Parks.
With a paternal line that came west over the Oregon Trail, Kay Cooke’s roots lie in LaCenter and Woodland. She has documented the line back to the Revolutionary War.
“I’m not finished with that research,” Cooke said, “but I’d like to spend some time tracing my maternal Scandinavian heritage.”
Luckily, there’s a focus group for that at CCGS. The group also holds monthly meetings in addition to occasional seminars, classes, groups and trips to help area residents explore their interest in genealogy.
The Clark County Genealogical Society is located at 717 Grand Blvd., Vancouver. It is a private library that is open to the general public in support of the Society’s purpose to encourage, foster, educate and organize activities related to genealogy.
Library hours are Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursdays 6-9 p.m. and the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, check the website atwww.ccgs-wa.org or call (360) 750-5688.